politics of iron man

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by stj, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ran across this in the Superman under pressure thread---
    As for generally praising the Air Force, I think after Stargate SG-1's ten year run, nothing---no, not anything---will compete in shameless flattery. Just not worth talking about in connection with Iron Man.

    One ironic reversal they omitted to discuss was Iron Man saving some Afghan villagers. In reality, the US and its cohorts are indifferent at best to civilian casualties from indiscriminate use of its superior firepower. At worst, the civilian population is attacked to punish it for supporting opponents.

    If the movie had left Stark's kidnappers as Asian Communists, it would have properly been perceived as hysterically villainizing the People's Republic and/or North Korea. These authors miss that not only did the real Talebans and predecessors receive US backing, but that the villains in the movie are receiving US backing. Stark seeing his company logo on the weapon that takes him down was a major moment. The story later on tells us that Stane was doing so as a rogue. The way that Stane at one point locks out Stark out of his own office rather does make Stane seem rather official though.

    When Stark comes back to the US, and takes up beating swords into plowshares and talking about taking control of his weapons, it is not a ringing endorsement of the Afghan war, to say the least. Indeed, given the US' role in the creation of the Taleban, it reads as if the script is saying that we in the form of our hero should take control of foreign policy. Of course, not only is taking control not quite the same thing as antiwar, even if the story advocates disarmament of a sort. Also of course, what Stark actually does is perfect his battle armor. But then, the character is explicitly portrayed as quite unskilled in serious thinking about anything but engineering (to put it generously.)

    I was not a big Iron Man reader. I had no idea who Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger was. In fact, I hadn't heard of Rhodes and only heard of War Machine on this bbs in discussions of the movie. However, even I had heard of the Mandarin and his Ten Rings. The fact that the movie explicitly names the villainous band the Ten Rings, aside from foreshadowing the Mandarin (Iron Man 2?) also explicitly makes the movie not about kicking Taleban ass. There are no visual tags of the band as Muslim. The villagers Iron Man saves look like stereotypical Muslims, but not the Ten Rings band, at least to my unsophisticated eyes.

    The question is, what did the story say to people who didn't know what Ten Rings meant? Did those people just overlook the somewhat atypical look of the Ten Rings soldiers and read them as Taleban? The intentional changes to the basic Iron Man origin story---blown up by his own weapons, tortured by a non-Muslim warlord in Afghanistan (an astonishing concept, no?) dissenting from government control of his weaponry, leaving the arms business, saving Afghan villagers (nothing like that happened in early Iron Man to my knowledge---or even later?) Stane's official role, if only as stockholder---reveal the intent to minimize prowar implications of the movie.

    But Hollywood does like to play it both ways. The new story says one thing. Visually, the torture scenes and Iron Man blasting the evil kidnappers are most easily read as saying the opposite. What did people like about Iron Man? Was it the excellent humorous dialogue, the antibombastic score, a Pepper with some brains and dignity, the careful rewriting of the basic story against gungho warmongering, the warmth of the Stark/Yensin relationship and Stark's humanity? Or was it just the cool way he's blasting the bad guys?
     
  2. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I love how you say this as if a. you are an authority on this and b. this is actually standard procedure.

    Have you ever actually been to war, stj? Have you ever seen a fire support mission up close.

    I have.

    I can tell you this, this is NOT typical. Does it happen? Yes. But to describe standard US combat procedures as callous towards civilians is at the very least one of ignorance. At worst, it speaks of an agenda against those who defend your right to slam them on the internet.
     
  3. Sharr Khan

    Sharr Khan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In your delusional mind maybe...

    As someone already said, yes these things happen but not out of callousness that you think they do happen out of disregard for civilians says more about yourself then anything the US Military does.

    I also take umbrage with your characterization "indiscriminate", as if every Soldier's John Rambo rising out of a swamp to fire on anything that moves: Target, child or small puppy without care for the actual mission. That's not how it works but for in hollywood.

    Sharr
     
  4. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And what exactly does this topic have to do with SF/F? Sounds like a weak excuse to try to drag TNZ into this forum. Lame. :rommie:

    I think I'll believe the word of the guy who's actually been in combat over anyone else.
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Can't say I agree with the OP on all counts, but Iron Man definitely appeared to be a war on terror fantasy to me. Nothing strikes home this point further than the scene where Iron Man goes to rescue the Afghan villagers from the terrorists who previously captured him. Tony's suit perfectly differentiates between enemies and friendlies, conveniently marking them in red and green, and takes out the bad guys with complete precision.

    Of course, in reality, the trouble with American war efforts in the middle east is that it is often impossible to differentiate between civilians and combatants. And, with nearly three decades of "smart bombs" under our belt, it's pretty clear that such weapons are never as accurate as we'd like them to be.

    My biggest beef has to be with how completely stupid the terrorist characters act, in order to faciliate the plot, but I'd rather not linger on that.

    The thing I liked about Iron Man had nothing to do with its insipid politics. Tony Stark was just a lot of fun to watch (the humor carried the movie), as were Gwenyth Paltrow as a surprisingly capable Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges as a character who is totally subservient to the plot, but manages to eat up the scenery with such glee that he's almost as much fun to watch as Robert Downey Jr.
     
  6. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Welcome to insurgency 101.
     
  7. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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    I think people read into the film a bit too much, probably because of the current political climate. The way Tony Stark is portrayed in the film is pretty much the way he's always been in the comics, for 40+ years--in fact, if I'm not mistaken, legend has it that Stan Lee created him as a writing challenge specifically to see if he could take an arrogant bastard weapons dealer and still make him a hero.
     
  8. darkwing_duck1

    darkwing_duck1 Vice Admiral

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    Indeed...IF we were as callous as the OP suggests, we would have won the actual combat phase of the war much sooner utilizing total war concepts rather than the limited war strategy we ultimately chose.

    IF we didn't care about the civilians, we wouldn't've had soldiers brought up on charges by "chair-borne ranger" REMF officers who decided that soldiers on the battlefield should abide by Law Enforcement RoEs.
     
  9. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Judging from the posts I've bothered to read, it is plain that Iron Man is indeed like Dark Knight---the heroes' cruelty to "bad" guys is what it's all about.

    The US in not at war in Afghanistan or Iraq to defend my right to free speech. The US, via Pakistan's InterService Intelligence, created and funded the Taleban, as well as its predecessors in the mujaheddin. Repeatedly bombing a country that has already surrendered also inevitably kills civilians. Both policies inevitably kill civilians. Both policies are intentional. Intentionally killing civilians shows indifference. No reason for staying in Afghanistan and Iraq shows anything but indifference to the population. It's this bigoted tripe that exposes an agenda.

    Anyone who believes that the US is defending the right to free speech in Afghanistan and Iraq is plainly too nuts to reliably understand his own personal experience. On the other hand, veterans of comabat like William Lind (try your Lew Rockwell link!) and Dan Taylor and independent journalists like Patrick Cockburn are much more reliable sources. Also, the notion that only veterans can talk about Afghanistan and Iraq is ridiculous. Militarism has rotted the brain completely. Or it's just dishonest.

    The idea that the US has held back militarily is extraordinary. Such a remarkable claim really needs some support. As it is, it just smells like blood lust.

    Andrew Harris---the simpleminded viciousness of the other posts reinforces my belief that the political overtones are a great source of pleasure. As to your belief that movie-Stark is still comic-Stark, well, that also reinforces my conclusion now. Comic book Stark really had a lot of anti-Communist rant, Yellow Peril bigotry and general idolization of the rich. Apparently these are still attractive qualities for the modern movie audience.
     
  10. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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    STJ--well, I'm not going to get into a political scratch-fight with you, but I would say that your critique of Tony Stark is misplaced--remember, he was created back in the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War and just a few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. An anti-Communist outlook was de riguer for comic book heroes for decades--even Fantastic Four #1, which launched Marvel comics, was based on anti-Communist sentiment. (Sue Storm, perhaps the most wallflower character ever to be called a superhero at the time, urged Reed to hijack the rocket to unlock the secret of cosmic rays before "the Commies" beat them to it.) Batman, meanwhile, was even saving Ronald Reagan from the KGBeast well into the 1980s.

    The challenge that Stan Lee (an avowed liberal) took upon himself was not to create a character who was popular because of his politics, but in spite of them. It's pretty much still the same theme that you see with the Iron Man stories today.
     
  11. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Too nuts to reliably understand my personal experience? At least I've got personal experience to be plainly nuts over. At least I'm not on the reading list of a bunch of far left blog sites, taking every anti-US bilge as frickin' gospel straight from the holy lips of Noam Chomsky himself.

    Let's get a few things straight. I'm NOT in favor of the war in Iraq. I think it's one of the worst strategic blunders ever committed in world history, as well as being completely immoral in it's origin, if not in the intention of those on the ground. I AM for the war in Afghanistan, for we were responding to an aggressor, and it is a damn shame that the forces that should be in play there are instead unnecessarily are tied up in Iraq.

    I think the Bush admin sucks. He will go down in history as one of our worst.

    But I'm also a US servicemember who has proudly served, has been deployed in harm's way, and have seen it all up close. A bit different from your position of safety provided, insured by the US forces you decry. And yes, Afghanistan is a war that that applies.

    Efforts against terrorism are also of that sort, bad management, poor decisions and incompetence from the current Admin excepted.

    Actually, it doesn't need any support. As I said, I've been there. You are a mouthy left wing loon without the sense to know that you don't know what you think you do, only that you've been told such from other loonies.

    But ok, what the hell. Operation Just Cause-Panama. I was working for an artillery battery at the time. We are supporting infantry moving in Panama City, a major concentration of the local population. We get a request for fire from one of those infantry units pinned down by machine gun fire. The guns prepared to send their round downrange, once we got the coordinates. Then, suddenly, the battery commander cancells the mission. According to our maps and intel, those rounds will be landing in an area where civillians are likely to be on the receiving end. The fire mission was cancelled as a result. Instead, armor was dispatched to aid them. More precise, but would take longer to get there.

    I enjoyed a great adaption of a comic character, with action in a relevant area in current events.


    What, did you want a pro-Communist bent? Of course, you are the guy who believes the New Battlestar Galactica is propaganda for the Republican Party.

    Nutbag.
     
  12. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Since the Fantastic Four did indeed have the same anti-Communist politics as Stark, Stan Lee could not have thought that Stark's politics made him unpopular. So he wasn't making a character popular in spite of his politics. As for the bastard, well, the origin story in the comics redeemed him just as in the movies. As for the womanizing, since it was the Sixties, expanding the hero definition to an Errol Flynn type wasn't an enormous challenge, I think. On the other hand, the Mandarin was a tired Fu Manchu ripoff if ever there was one. His likely appearance in Iron Man II is much too be dreaded.

    Comic-book Tony was rightwing in most ways---yes, you're right that was not unique, but how is that relevant? And movie Tony turns out to have had the same kind of political appeal---you're right, that is like the comic. We actually seem to agree but somehow you think that doesn't support the case that Iron Man the movie is appealing to the desire to see a superhero beat up political enemies of the US.
     
  13. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    One warning for flaming.
     
  14. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A weapons designer has slightly right wing politics. This is a shocker?

    As for the appeal of the film, most people I saw loved it because it was a cracking good superhero story, that did just about everything right. The comic book geeks loved it, because it was a true adaptation. The general public loved it because it was a well done, sophisticated yet still accessable popcorn summer film.

    It's nothing more complicated than that.
     
  15. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, so this gets to fly free, yet "nutbag" gets penalized?
     
  16. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Yes, because calling someone names is worse. Don't mention it again here in the thread; there are steps to protesting a warning, and none of them include derailing a topic.

    Also, in general, everyone needs to keep the thread out of TNZ territory.
     
  17. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd say this thread STARTED in TNZ territory, as has been pointed out elsewhere.
     
  18. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    Not really. The politics as they relate to Iron Man is a valid SF&F topic. But when it veers off into only discussing the politics, that's TNZ or Misc territory.
     
  19. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd say, considering the agenda laden tone of the OP and subsequent posts, such a veering was a foregone conclusion.
     
  20. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Abuse of Power Administrator

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    You can keep it out of TNZ territory. I have faith in you.